The SmarK Rant for Monday Night RAW–08.05.96

The SmarK Rant for Monday Night RAW – 08.05.96 Taped from Seattle, WA Your hosts are Vince McMahon & Jim Ross Jerry Lawler vs. Aldo Montoya Aldo is now Jake Roberts’ protege, having learned the DDT and beaten Jerry Lawler on Superstars. The gag here is that Lawler does commentary while wrestling, then attacks Aldo after offering him the microphone. Montoya with a dropkick out of the corner, but Lawler hides behind the ref to escape the DDT. Aldo slugs away in the corner, but somehow walks into a piledriver that gets two. Another one finishes at 2:30. Not horrible for a Lawler match. ** Lawler pours a bottle of “whiskey” down his throat, which of course would have been iced tea. “He doesn’t even drink!” Vince declares in horror. Well that just makes him boring. The New Rockers vs. The Bodydonnas Some guy in the front has an “I’m Glacier” sign, which is some pretty awesome snark. The Rockers attack Zip on the way to the ring and double-team him to control, which has crack color man Hillbilly Jim declaring it a donnybrook! Hey, that’s my deal. The Donnas do some stuff and it’s so boring that they cut away to a promo from Faarooq and Sunny. Ron Simmons without a goatee is just weird. So unfortunately back to the match as Zip fights off the Rockers and Jim babbles like a moron. Every day they’re scufflin’, apparently. So more stuff happens that I don’t care about and Skip gets a flying splash on Marty for two, but Leif clotheslines him on the top rope and I guess this would be the heat segment if the Bodydonnas had any heat. God, watching the lawn dart Nitro from the week previous with cutting edge angles and editing, and then watching this bad 80s bullcrap pretty much highlights why Nitro was destroying them. And this boring match keeps going, so we cut to Gorilla Monsoon reinstating Crush in an inset promo. The Rockers cut off the tag and JESUS FUCK WE TAKE A BREAK. Back with Skip making the comeback with a top rope rana and then the Smoking Gunns run in for the DQ at 11:18. Vince promises that this is exactly what we can expect to see at Summerslam. What, a boring match between heatless teams that ends with a shit finish? Actually, I think that WAS what we saw, come to think of it. *1/2 Shawn Michaels sits down with Kevin Kelly and promises that he’s just a regular guy, like all of us! Except you know, he’s a wrestler and WWF World champion. Also, he could be beaten on any given night. Well, as long you don’t TELL him in advance that he’s dropping the title, because he’ll develop a knee injury or fail a drug test or something. Given what we know about him at this point, this really makes him come off as an insufferable douchebag. Quick note: In the WON for that week, Meltzer runs down the scheduled card for Mindgames: “Current line-up for the 9/22 IYH PPV from Philadelphia is Cornette & Vader vs. Michaels & Lothario, Owen & Bulldog vs. Sid & ? (scheduled as Johnson but that could change), Gunns vs. Godwinns for tag titles (which also may change), Vega vs. Asad, Mankind vs. Mero and Undertaker vs. Goldust. “ Literally none of those matches happened. Talk about plans changing. Invitational Battle Royale: So was this taped earlier in the show before Ahmed’s kidney injury? Because holy crap that would suck for him if not. We’ve got Undertaker, Mankind, Sid, Bulldog, Bradshaw, Owen Hart, Steve Austin, Goldust, Marc Mero and Savio Vega. Taker and Mankind immediately eliminate themselves and Sid tosses the Bulldog and then it settles into the usual kicking and punching. Owen skins the cat to save himself, but Mero clotheslines him out and we take a break. We return with Goldust backdropping Mero to the floor, and then Savio eliminates himself on his own corner kick. So our final four is Austin, Sid, Goldust and Ahmed, while Undertaker brawls with Mankind through the crowd off and on. The Austin-Goldust heel duo double-teams Ahmed and tries to get Sid out, with no success. Ahmed and Goldust practically have a meeting right on camera and we take a break with Undertaker still brawling with Mankind. Back with Sid powerbombing Goldust and then Austin. And then we cut to the back for more UT-Mankind shenanigans. This is a really weird battle royale because they did a bunch of eliminations in rapid-fire manner and then it’s been the same four guys for like 10 minutes. Finally Owen and Bulldog distract Sid and allow him to be eliminated. Goldust turns on Austin, but Steve goes low on him and they slug it out. Ahmed and Goldust briefly team up to put Austin out, but Goldust gets a piledriver and we take a THIRD break. Back with Ahmed holding a bodyscissors, but Goldust fights up and they collide, resulting in Goldust falling to the floor at 23:45. Ahmed was just over like crazy here and I guess you’d call this the peak of his career because he was never at the same kind of level again. Theoretically this earned Ahmed a shot at Shawn Michaels on the 8/19 RAW following Summerslam, but of course that didn’t happen due to his injury, and Dave seemed to hint that they were going to do a bait-and-switch anyway to get out of it. The Pulse I was pretty bored by this show, but that Nitro was a tough act to follow so I could be biased.

The SmarK RAW Rant–02.03.14

The SmarK RAW Rant – 02.03.14 WWE Network in Canada update for those who have asked me: Unblock-US is currently taking the stance of “We’re looking into it, so shut up and leave us alone.” There is a LOT of demand from Canadian fans for it, however, and it seems likely that someone will support it and thus meet the demand, whether it’s Unblock or Playmo.TV or one of the other VPNs. I heartily recommend Unblock-US anyway because of Hulu and streaming shows off the US network websites, but whoever can guarantee support for the WWE Network will get my money without reservation. Live from Omaha, NB. Your hosts are Michael Cole, JBL & Jerry Lawler Randy Orton starts us out, and he’s still having problems with the Authority while the fans immediately try to hijack the show with CM Punk chants. Jesus, Punk quit, why are you chanting for him? It’s not like WWE fired him or anything. So anyway, HHH and Steph interrupt, and this week they’re arguing with Orton again and are losing faith in him, because that’s how they’re written this week. Orton will face each of his Chamber opponents leading up to the PPV, and at stake is the possibility that someone else might be considered as the new face of WWE. That’s HUGE STAKES. And we start with Orton v. Bryan tonight. The Shield v. Kofi Kingston, Rey Mysterio & Big E Langston JBL actually brings up a good point for once, with Cole going on again about how Ambrose has been US champion for months and months and then JBL countering that it’s easy to be champion for 14 years if you never defend it. Which is true, I think he’s literally had less than a dozen title defenses since May. The Shield works Kofi over, but Rey comes in and runs wild on Rollins for a bit before he too falls victim to the Shield in the form of a Hart Attack that gets two. And we take a break. Back with Ambrose holding a chinlock, but it’s hot tag Big E, the perfect hot tag guy. Warrior splash on Reigns gets two. It’s breaking loose in Tulsa, but Big E walks into the superman punch and Ambrose finishes E with the bulldog driver at 11:09. Pretty blah stuff for the Shield. ** Why are they still beating Langston all the time? Broken down Rey was RIGHT THERE. Or more importantly, why put the title on him in the first place if they had no plans for him? Bray Wyatt pops up with a promo to creep everyone out. ALEXANDER RUSEV is coming, thankfully with Lana in tow. Christian v. Jack Swagger Christian evades a blind charge and dumps Swagger, but Swagger gets a cheapshot outside and takes over. Back in, he tosses Christian with a hiptoss for two and goes to a submission hold, but goes up and misses. Christian comes back with the missile dropkick, but runs into a knee. Unprettier gets two, however, and he goes up and lands in an anklelock. Christian escapes that and goes up again, but Swagger brings him down and also misses, allowing Christian to roll him up for the pin at 6:00. So yes, it’s the LOSING STREAK gimmick for Swagger leading to another team breaking up. Call your friends and tell them to start watching right now! *1/2 Cage Match, WWE tag titles: The New Age Outlaws v. Cody Rhodes & Goldust Thankfully they’ve dropped the escape rule for the tag team version of the cage match, because it was stupid anyway. Apparently this feud has been heated up by “interesting back and forth on social media, including one Tweet where Cody made fun of the Outlaws for their age!” TAKE ALL MY MONEY NOW! Road Dogg gets nowhere with Cody to start, and Gunn slugs it out with Goldust before Cody comes in with a small package for two. The Outlaws work Cody over in boring fashion while the crowd chants for Punk. Probably because they’re as bored as the announcers by this. Road Dogg and Goldust randomly trade armbars with absolutely nothing going on as the announcers posit that fans are so quiet because both teams are incredibly popular and thus fans don’t know who to cheer for. So are the Outlaws supposed to be faces or heels? I’m really at a loss here. Either way, this “CM Punk” guy seems to be the most over person in the match. So this drags on AND ON and finally Goldust hits a spinebuster on Dogg and makes the hot tag to Cody, allowing the faces to run wild. Disaster kick gets two on Billy, pissing off the crowd. And then Cody goes up to the top of the cage, totally whiffs on a moonsault that barely grazes Road Dogg’s arm, and Billy sneaks in with a fameasser to retain at 17:38 to kill the crowd again. -* This was AWFUL and completely exposed the Outlaws in every way, from the total lack of heat to everyone stumbling through the main portion of the match to Road Dogg being out of place completely for the big moonsault spot and nearly killing poor Cody as a result. Oh yeah, negative stars, I WENT THERE. This feud is rapidly eroding any heat that Cody and Goldust ever had and I still don’t know what the endgame is supposed to be. They break up another tag team and have a feud that no one wants to see with Cody becoming a midcard heel again? Because that seems to be where we’re ending up. Batista is out for some reason, and Alberto Del Rio is still UPSET with him. Batista laughs him off, so Del Rio attacks and they do some macho posturing as Batista is now also upset. You know, it would be nice if Del Rio would just add something like “I would also like that title shot and don’t think you should have won it” or something in order to give them an actual issue to feud over. The Wyatt Family v. Dolph Ziggler, R-Truth & XAVIER WOODS Finally, Woods debuts on the Hulu RAW after doing the intros for weeks! Not that I care about seeing him, but I just think it’s kind of funny in that I’ve literally never seen any of his RAW matches on this version of the show. The babyfaces get the advantage on Rowan, but Harper puts Truth down in the corner and the crowd chants for Ziggler. I don’t foresee that going as well for Dolph as it has for Punk and Bryan. But he gets the hot tag anyway and slugs away on Harper in the corner, with a DDT that gets two. Bray turns the tide, however, and finishes Dolph with Sister Abagail at 5:00, because OF COURSE they beat the guy getting all the chants. * The Shield responds on the Titantron afterwards, and Ambrose is also crazy and thus not afraid. BATTLE FOR THE OPPORTUNITY TO POSSIBLY BE THE FACE OF WWE IN THE EYES OF THE AUTHORITY FOR SOME REASON: Daniel Bryan v. Christian Jerry Lawler really lays it on the line here: If Randy Orton loses ANY of these matches, that’s really gonna affect the opinion of him with the Authority. So that’s now their idea of a storyline. Instead of fighting for titles, guys are fighting to impress HHH and Stephanie. Michael Cole restates it even more forcefully: If Daniel Bryan wins, then the Authority may have to rethink who the face of the company really is. Riveting. RIVETING. Orton puts him down with a headbutt as the announcers are already writing off Orton’s chance of winning at the Chamber, since it’s painfully telegraphed that he will be doing just that. Bryan throws kicks in the corner and the ADD directing is getting really obvious and annoying here. Going cut-kick-cut-kick-cut-kick is headache-inducing once you start noticing it. Bryan works on the knee and dropkicks it into the post. Cole notes that Orton is questioning the authority of the Authority. But that’s their NAME! That’s the one thing you can’t question about them! Maybe that’s why I’m supposed to boo Orton. Bryan puts Orton down with a forearm with two and goes back to the leg, and a backslide gets two. Orton bails to avoid further punishment, and Bryan follows and tosses him into Cole’s lap. Back in, he stays on the knee and follows with a top rope rana for two. Into the surfboard and a half crab, but Orton puts him on the floor and drops him on the railing to take over. Back in, Orton stomps away and powerslams him, and we take a break. Back with Bryan throwing kicks while the camera zooms in and out and continues to drive me crazy. Orton catches him with a throw, however, thus injuring the shoulder. Orton works on that and they head to the top for a battle up there, won by Bryan. He follows with a missile dropkick, but hurts the shoulder on the way down. He keeps coming with kicks, but Orton wrenches the arm to put him down again. Bryan catches him in the Yes-Lock and the camera cuts FIVE TIMES between Bryan reaching for the move and actually getting it. Corner dropkicks as Bryan makes the comeback, but Orton hits his own dropkick. Bryan escapes the RKO and goes up with the flying headbutt for two. Bryan with the kicks (ZOOM, cut, ZOOM, cut) but Kane comes out and gets dropkicked off the apron as a result. Bryan hits both Kane and Orton with a dive, and back in for the running knee to finish at 28:28. ****1/4 Kane and Orton deliver the beatdown afterwards, as the announcers posit that the Authority sent Kane down in case Orton was going to lose. Wasn’t the point that they WANTED Orton to lose because they didn’t have faith in him? I am legitimately confused by what the storyline is supposed to be. HHH doesn’t want Bryan as the champion, he doesn’t want Orton as the champion, but sometimes he does…who does he even want as champion? His buddy Batista? That at least would be a storyline that makes sense. What would make even more sense is HHH coming out and admitting that he wants HIMSELF as champion, and would probably be far more true to life and easier to build off at that. Cole closes by noting that Bryan might have had a chance to be the face of WWE, but Kane got involved, so now he can’t. What? How does that even…never mind, I give up. The Pulse Terrible show, great main event, which has been noted by many already. Unfortunately it also bombed in the ratings, so you know who’s gonna get blamed for that.

MeekinOnMovies on….The WWE Network

I can’t remember who said it, but some guy once said humans have an implicit need to steal or get away with it. Going 70 in a 65 MPH zone. Buy-one-get-ones at stores. Pasting a webpage from target into a word document and altering the price of the first season of house to 9.99 to force Walmart to price match when you bring in the print out. Using one of those pre-paid Visa cards to ring up a bunch of Redbox Rentals and never return them. Paying ONLY 9.99 a month for a Netflix subscription with thousands of movies and shows and sharing your login with 5 or 6 friends. <redacted due to Google Ad-sense shenanigans, but it rhymes with preening and abhorrent(ing) > Movies and TV shows on premium cable networks we don’t have.

I never felt this way about pro-wrestling, ever. I have never said “oh, what a steal!”. In 2013 the WWE got roughly 100 dollars of my money and I want it all back. I purchased The Royal Rumble (only to have Rock V. Punk cut out on me), and Wrestlemania only to be wholly disappointed. Dollar signs danced in my head while heckling ‘You paid WHAT?!”, while visions of video games, gas in my car, and hardcore pornography I could have had instead assaulted the part of your conscience that perks up when you engage in any guilty pleasure (This part of my brain burnt out briefly during the Nicole Bass era).

Looking at that bill sometime in May, I felt ripped off and journeyed down the dark path of dailymotion and other none-too-reputable sites in order to get my premium pro-wrestling fix. “Well, fuck them,” I thought, “I gave em 100 bucks I’ve earned it”. 

Of course, I hadn’t. I was stealing, which is wrong. If the WWE Network is all it’s cracked up to be, well suddenly I’m not stealing, but feel like I am.

While dwindling(ish) PPV buy-rates and lower ratings probably
have a bit to do with the product – Cena, Orton, Triple H (FUCKING
STILL?!), and a lack of a mid-card you can root for, I think more of it
has to do with the way we humans consume media these days.

Namely we do it on our own terms for a ‘reasonable’ fee. While my parents handle the cable, I toss in about 40 bucks a month for Netflix, Amazon Prime, Xbox Live Gold, and Spotify to ensure ‘There’s nothing on!’ is never uttered in the house of a proud TV school graduate. 9.99 a month for lots of content is a lot easier to swallow than a one-time, semi-annual, expectation heavy,  60 dollar payment for a 3 hour wrestling PPV. 60 dollars is 6 months of Netflix. 60 dollars is 6 months of Amazon Instant Watch. 60 dollars is of 6 months of Spotify. 60 dollars is a video game which provides literally quadruple the longevity.

90 percent of the time the shame and frustration spiral
of googling <redacted due to Google ad-sense, it rhymes with SHEE
PREAM> is so much easier that you almost forget it’s wrong. Andy PG made a point to say that for all our bitching about the direction of the company, when they finally do something we like, like push Daniel Bryan, we reward them by pirating their PPVs then bemoaning out-loud that the low buy-rate will result in a depush for our chosen golden calf (goat).

Thus I can’t help but feel that this is the WWE’s genuine attempt to reach us hardcore fans on a qausi-budget. The people who discuss this stuff with passion and fervor and post reviews of WWE shows from 1984 and posts thousands of comments EVERY SINGLE MONDAY about Raw. I mean for Christ Sake this thing started out as a wrestling blog and now it feels like some sort of community. It all started because we like wrestling (and Scott Keith I presume). 

This is the WWE reaching out for a handshake and saying ‘Hey guys, meet us half way,” as they slowly extend their other hand, slyly reaching into our pockets, hoping we don’t notice that they’re secretly getting more money from some of us over the course of a year than they ever have before. 

We notice. But we don’t mind because a handshake that firm has to mean well. 

Random Thoughts:

1. This won’t be on Xbox One until Summer, after Wrestlemania.
2. I guess Benoit will be featured in content, which is good, with a disclaimer.
3. One thing I’d love to see is an ‘Indies Hub’ where promotions with quality video work can get featured and seen by a wide audience.
4. It’s only 720p. Does anyone know if typical WWE PPVs are shot in 1080p?